Tom’s Guide Awards 2021: Our favorite phones of the year

Tom’s Guide Awards 2021: Our favorite phones of the year

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The past year has been one of contrasts for phone makers. On the one hand, the companies that make smartphones continue to find ways to innovate, whether it’s dynamically refreshing displays, AI-powered camera improvements or fast-charging batteries. On the other, the Samsung-Apple dominance of the mobile market has become so pronounced that some phone makers, such as LG, have decided to throw in the towel.

Certainly, the latest iPhone and Galaxy flagships continue to be standouts — just look at who’s taking home some of our top awards. But phones from the not-so-usual suspects made a mark, too, whether it was packing premium features into more reasonably priced handset or bringing 5G connectivity to more people.

Best phone overall: Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

Tom's Guide Awards 2021: iPhone 12 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 12 series introduced 5G to Apple’s smartphone lineup. More than that, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the best phone we’ve ever reviewed. It scored high marks with its 6.7-inch OLED display, versatile cameras and powerful performance. But the iPhone 12 Pro Max really stands out with its long battery life, as it lasted nearly 11 hours on our web surfing test. It’s the longest-lasting iPhone 12 model by far and our favorite phone from the last year.

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